John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, endorsed Mitt Romney to be the party’s standard bearer in 2012, lining up today behind a former rival he defeated in New Hampshire’s primary four years ago.
McCain, the Arizona senator who won New Hampshire’s primary in 2000 and 2008, announced his support a day after Romney won the Iowa caucuses by just eight votes over former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Romney, a former governor in neighboring Massachusetts, is pressing to win New Hampshire’s Jan. 10 primary by a margin big enough to put him on the path to the nomination.
“I am really here for one reason and one reason only, and that is to make sure that we make Mitt Romney the next president of the United States of America,” McCain told voters gathered in a Manchester, New Hampshire, high school gym. “New Hampshire is the state that will catapult him on to victory in a very short period of time.”
When they competed for the 2008 Republican nomination, McCain accused Romney of “consistently flip-flopping on every issue,” and Romney said McCain held positions “out of the mainstream” of Republican ideas.
Today, Romney described McCain as “one of America’s heroes.”
Both men criticized President Barack Obama, largely ignoring attacks on Romney by his Republican competitors.
“Our message to President Barack Obama is: You can run but you can’t hide,” McCain said.
In Iowa yesterday, Romney and Santorum each received about 25 percent of more than 122,000 votes cast.